Speechlys picks up Royal London development deal

Speechly Bircham is advising Royal London on the £155m Southpoint development at Blackfriars Road, London, the first major property deal for the mutual insurance society since its merger with Scottish Life last year.
Royal London has formed a limited partnership with Dechert client Arial Trade to develop a Will Alsop-designed office building.
The deal has now gone unconditional after a series of complex rights of light issues were resolved. Herbert Smith partner Donald Rowlands advised the limited partners and the limited partnership on those issues, while Linklaters advised HBOS on construction finance.
Dechert originally acted for Arial when it acquired the site in 1999, while Speechlys previously acted for Scottish Life on its involvement in the site before it was taken over by Royal London. Speechlys has since consolidated its Royal London relationship.
Lead property partner Susan Haggard said: “We were fortunate in that Scottish Life’s property head Richard Pardoe became property head at Royal London, so the relationship continued. He’s keen on exploring new property structures and ways of investing, so it’s very rare to have something straightforward.”
An umbrella agreement brought the deal together, including the formation of, and the transfer of property to, the limited partnership, conditional on the rights of light issues being resolved. Royal London provided interim finance, so Haggard had to ensure that the finance would be returned if the conditions were not met.